Skip To Content
Breaking News

Shas Minister Calls Reform Jews ‘Disaster’ for Israel

Israel’s religious services minister reportedly called Reform Jews “a disaster for the people of Israel.”

David Azoulay of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party made the comments during a meeting to discuss the Women of the Wall group, Israel Hayom daily newspaper reported Wednesday. The meeting reportedly took place on Tuesday between Azoulay and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the right-wing Jewish Home party.

Azoulay is trying to clamp down on non-Orthodox practices at the Western Wall. His predecessor, Naftali Bennett, the head of Jewish Home, had agreed to a plan to establish an egalitarian section in an area adjacent to the Western Wall plaza known as Robinson’s Arch. The plan was formulated by Cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit and Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky to resolve religious conflict at the wall.

But Azoulay appears to be walking back the compromise.

“The Western Wall belongs to everybody,” Azoulay said, according to Israel Hayom. “What these women do is provocation. To come with tallitot, tefillin and a Torah scroll is not praying but rather provocation.”

The haredi Orthodox parties were not part of the previous government.

Women of the Wall meets at the beginning of each Jewish month for a women’s service at the Western Wall. Many of the women wear tallitot and tefillin, and have been lobbying to be allowed to read from the Torah during the service. Twice in recent months the group has read from a Torah smuggled into the women’s section.

“The government is waging war against Women of the Wall,” the group said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“We expect Ayelet Shaked, like her predecessor, to announce unequivocally that as a woman and a Justice Minister, she will not sign discriminatory regulations, and will not be a part of exclusion of women from the Western Wall or from any other place. The court has already ruled that these regulations are discriminatory and illegal.”

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that leaders of the Reform movement sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday calling on him to publicly distance himself from Azoulay’s remarks and questioning Azoulay’s ability to remain in the ministerial position.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.